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Meet the Chef

Shane Avant spent 17 years away from good ol’ New Zealand to follow culinary adventures overseas. He’s now made his way home and right into the Bazaar kitchen at QT Queenstown.

Hailing from Paeroa, the official birthplace of L&P (Lemon & Paeroa,) New Zealand’s sweet and tangy home-grown soft drink, Shane returned to the country with a wealth of international experience – that we get to reap the rewards of!

Cutting his culinary teeth at landmark restaurant, Le Bon Bolli, in Christchurch, Shane was hungry to travel the world’s most exotic locations and do his thang. We don’t mean to name drop but this legend has run kitchen’s at 5-star Cocoa Island by COMO in the Beckham-worthy, Instagram-famous preferred destination, the Maldives, to 5-star Vomo Island Resort in Fiji.

It’s quite a CV you’ve got there (and I only touched on the most “ooo-aaah” worthy), how have your experiences overseas influenced your style of cooking?

I’ve spent some time working in countries, such as Fiji and the Maldives, and it has influenced my overall style of cooking into being a lighter style of cuisine. My focus remains on the freshness of produce – we were spoilt with the seafood the islands had to offer.

How do you think the Kiwi food scene has changed since you left?

It’s continued to grow and develop as more quality products and produce is available, which is great to see! There are some really good boutique food producers that have really opened up the creative juices and, as a result, a competitive artisan food scene.

Which New Zealand food/ingredients did you miss the most while you were away – and why?

Despite being surrounded by fresh seafood, I missed kai moana; the shellfish and crays – you can’t beat cold water crays. The awesome tua tua, pippies, and clams varieties also come to mind.

Your two kids were a big factor in returning to the motherland, which dish can they make you on a day off?

Pancakes.

Which dish do you love to be made on your birthday – we’ll put it in the calendar?

Birthday? I’m normally at work, so anything not cooked by me.

Big plans for Bazaar?

Bazaar is using the best products available right this minute and I want to keep each day fresh and seasonal, creating homely style dishes with a chefs twist. We have amazing produce in Central Otago and showcasing this will be my focus.

Never one to rest on its laurels, QT Queenstown’s Bazaar is upping the ante with Shane’s experience on the international food scene.

Knives are sharpened and Bazaar’s doors are wide open.

words by chris lee


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